Team Toyota return to Europe for more tests after Melbourne flop


  • Other Sport
  • Monday, 17 Mar 2003

PETALING JAYA: Team Panasonic Toyota Racing have spared no expenses to avoid another repeat of their disappointing result in the season-opening Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne. 

In the race at the Albert Park circuit on March 9, Olivier Panis and Cristiano da Matta were forced to take an early bath. 

Panis ran into a recurrence of a fuel pressure problem and he was left stranded on the circuit after 32 laps. Until then, the French driver was in contention to finish among the points, running as high as fifth place at one stage. 

It was also an uneventful debut for Da Matta. The Brazilian spun out after seven laps when he moved to the right of two cars ahead and completely missed his braking point. 

In their run-up to the Malaysian GP, Toyota, who are based in Cologne, took the unusual decision to fly back the entire crew and drivers to Europe continue their tests. 

For the past four days, Panis and da Matta had been taking turns to go behind the wheel of a TF103 in test sessions at the Jerez Circuit in Spain. 

The team not only concentrated on finalising preparations for the second leg of the World Championships but also underwent special wet tyre tests for Michelin. They completed their test sessions yesterday. 

Panis did 136 laps over two days and felt that they were very productive outings. 

“Earlier, we worked on various suspension settings and also on the braking system. Today, we ran our entire session on a wet track to carry out tyre development work,” said Panis, who has one GP win to his credit. 

“Two trucks were basically pouring water on the track every 40 minutes to keep it significantly wet. We learnt a lot today and certainly gathered valuable information ahead of Malaysia where weather conditions can be relatively unstable.  

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